Wedding Vendors Review
It’s finally time for me to give a FULL, DETAILED review of ALL our wedding vendors. The good, the bad, and the dirty. If you know anything about me, you know that I don’t hold back and that I say it like it is. I will throw this disclaimer out there: everything is from our OWN, PERSONAL experiences with these vendors. After working with them for over a year, I feel that I have a pretty good idea of their integrity and the way they run their business. My main goal of this post is to help other brides in the DC area with their vendors choices. Yes, I have some horrible experiences that I pray no bride ever has to deal with, and yes, I have some above & beyond experiences that I hope every bride can experience if they hire those vendors. Of course, I’m not getting paid anything to write this. This is merely just a guideline and cheat sheet. I know when I was wedding planning, I couldn’t find anything like this. It was all bubbly reviews on Wedding Wire or The Knot. I wanna get down and dirty and to the nitty gritty. I wanna tell it like it is. And here we go…
Wedding venue / ceremony & reception: Raspberry Plain
One of the first things you do as a newly engaged couple is look at potential wedding venues. Well, turn that car right around and avoid this place like the plague! Sure, it’s stunning on the outside and the location is ideal, but the owner, Maria Guerra, is toxic and has poor business practice. She’s SUPER SWEET in person, but once you give her the money and once you leave her property, she is a complete jerk to you. Would you like to hear stories of our experience with her? Of course you do! Let’s put together a list, shall we?
- Her communication skills are horrid. She won’t reply to emails (and when you’re a bride, you kind of need answers!!) and I would have to email her 3-4 times before I got a response. She’s good in the beginning, obviously, cause she’s trying to get your business, but after that, she just stops caring
- I don’t know any other venue that makes you pay a 50% deposit within the first week of you signing your contract and then 30 DAYS LATER, you pay the other 50%…that’s really weird to me, but whatever. It was in the contract & we clearly read it, so I’ll let this one go. It’s just odd, ya know?
- Our event time was 6pm-10pm. For an additional hour (with the event ending at 11pm), it was $700. Jason & I decided, this is the ONE time we’re ever going to get married so we finally decided to pay $700 for an extra hour. We pay for an extra hour, we get it, right? Wrong. Maria went up to my day of coordinator and said that she wanted everyone “out by 10:45pm” and my DOC said, “um sorry, no..they paid $700 for the extra hour, everyone will leave at 11pm” and Maria goes, “I own this place, this is my property, people will leave at 10:45pm” and my DOC said, “it says in the contract that it will end at 11pm, that means it will end at 11pm, no earlier.” So then Maria goes up to my DJ and tries to get him to CUT THE MUSIC at 10:45pm. He wouldn’t because he knew this event was ending at 11pm. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?! WHO DOES THIS?!
- My parents went up to the venue a couple weeks before our wedding to check up on the renovations of the place. For the amount of money Maria gets from each bride, she could do a lot better job with the upkeep. My parents weren’t thrilled with the rotted wood so they wanted her to fix it before our wedding. What does a real professional business lady say? “If you don’t like it, we can just cancel the wedding.” YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. Thank God I wasn’t there that day, I probably would’ve punched her. Luckily, my dad ended up yelling at her and she realized what she did wrong. Ridiculous, huh?
This is the KICKER: So, in Maria’s contract, it says that the security deposit (which is a hefty $1500) will be refunded to you within 30 days of the event. I emailed her early on in May to give her our address to send the check. The 30 days was coming close (April 26th) so I called her last Thursday (the 23rd) to see if she’d be sending the check soon or if she had sent it. She said, “oh! I’m sending it today!”…on Tuesday (the 28th) we hadn’t received it yet but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and see if we’d get it today (the 29th)…nope. Didn’t get it. So this was our email interaction:
Hi Maria,We last spoke Thursday morning, the 23rd, and you had mentioned you were sending our security deposit check of $800 that day. We should have received the check by now and we have not. I have already emailed you once about this earlier this month and given you our address so there should’ve been no confusion as where to send it, and if there was any confusion, you could’ve emailed or called me.According to your contract, we should have received the security deposit 30 days after the event. This has not been the case. Therefore, I’m asking you to overnight us a cashiers check of $800 paid out to me, Julie Chiou, by this Friday (which would be 35 days after the event), otherwise, I’m going to file with small claims court on Friday. This is absolutely unacceptable and a breach of your own contract! We have done our part and followed your contract word for word and made timely payments, and for you to not even follow your own contract is completely hypocritical and a poor way to do business.If you have any questions, feel free to email me or call me.—Maria responded with: I am sorry that you dis not get it yet. I sent it already You should have gotten. Check your mail today and please let know that you got it. Please keep in mind that this was a holiday weekend. I am sorry that you are stressing over this. I’m stressing out over this? $1500 is not some chump change, lady.—I responded with: We didn’t get it today. Even if it was a holiday weekend and you sent it Thursday, it still would’ve gotten to us by now. There’s Saturday delivery too. So technically Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, or today’s delivery would’ve produced your check as it does not take 4 days for a letter to get from Leesburg to Fairfax.
Photographer: Katelyn James Photography
Need I say more? I love her. She’s a doll to work with and she has great business practice. She knows what her clients want and you don’t even have to ask. I cannot recommend her enough. She is SO professional and on top of things and probably one of the sweetest persons I’ve ever met in my life. She genuinely just wants to capture your special day perfectly. You need to hire her :) We also got our pictures & gallery in TWO WEEKS! It was so fast!! Her and her husband are a great team. Even on the night of the wedding, they finished a quick slideshow of the pics that were taken up until the reception. Crazy good!
Videographer: Michael Brazda Films
Michael Brazda and his team are really professional. They stay out of your way and really know how to be discrete. Watching our wedding video, it was incredible to see all the shots he got because 90% of them, I don’t even remember him even being in the room!!!! He’s SO good! I didn’t talk much with him the day of, but I contracted him over a year before our wedding and all our email communications have been very prompt and professional. His prices can’t be beat – for what you get, it’s a really great deal compared to all other videographers that are on his level and experience level and quality. I can’t wait to show you our wedding video!! :)
Wedding Dress: Bustle
I got my beautiful wedding dress from my SIL & BIL’s bridal store!! It’s a Pattis gown and everything about it is stunning, if I do say so myself. My SIL did an extraordinary job helping me out with my wedding in every aspect. She was attentive and gave advice and she really knows how to RUN a business. She understands that brides are stressed and she tries to ease that by always communicating and always asking how she can help. Really, that’s just outstanding customer service. Her store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and it is STUNNING. They have a floor to ceiling mirror – which I’ve NEVER seen before in any bridal stores. Her store is super organized too and every dress in there is on wooden hangers (I hated walking into some DC bridal stores where they had metal hangers that were BENDING due to weight of the dress). You really need to check out her store if you’re in the area – it’s jaw-dropping and the customer service is top-notch. She really teaches her consultants well and how to treat clients. Every bridal store I went to in the DC area, I really couldn’t compare their customer service and attitude to my SIL’s. I’m not just saying this because she is family, she really treats EVERY client like a friend/family member.
Caterer: Better Events Catering
Roberto Torres is the owner and catering manager of Better Events Catering. I cannot praise him enough. He is the most PATIENT and flexible person, ever. I think we changed our contract almost 30 times and we had all these random issues arise and all these questions and he took everything with such grace and professionalism. There wasn’t ONCE where he seemed annoyed at us or angry. His answer is always, “yes.” His team is really good too. They know how to setup the event super fast and our guests kept commenting on how their glasses were never empty. They were on top of it! The food – I mean, c’mon, would I have a bad caterer? I have pretty high standards and Roberto & his team definitely came out on top. All our guests were raving about the food and how fresh and delicious it was. Nothing was super dried out (we had a buffet) – everything was tender, moist, and juicy. I’m so happy with the quality of service Roberto provided us.
Florist: My Wedding Flowers
Melissa Sylvain owns My Wedding Flowers and I loved working with her. I didn’t appreciate flowers at all before working with her. She actually has made me love flowers – which is very hard to do since I’ve always hated them! I went into our consultation not knowing ANYTHING about what I wanted or what flowers I wanted in my bouquets. I just had pictures of what I liked and what colors I wanted. She took all my thoughts and put them in a bouquet that was absolutely stunning. I was seriously SO THRILLED when she dropped them off at my bridal suite. She’s really patient, too, AND she even did a FaceTime chat with me when all the flowers came in so she could show me what would go with what. Her prices are definitely really competitive and they’re AFFORDABLE. Flowers were at the end of my budget and she definitely was able to work within my small budget for flowers. She’s awesome!!
Day of Coordinator: Project Posh
Shelley Landon is the owner of Project Posh and I absolutely loved working with her. If you can, HIRE a DOC. They will save you from so much stress. Shelley ran the day SO beautifully. Even Katelyn said that she was amazed at how we were running EARLY for everything. Shelley’s assistant, Sadaf, is a doll. They both work really well together and are a well-oiled machine. They ran rehearsal with promptness and everyone knew what to do on the day of. Shelley really goes above and beyond for her brides. I left some stuff at the venue and she offered to go back to the venue to get them for me. I loved having Shelley and Sadaf being apart of my day because I could actually enjoy it and know that everything was taken care of. They followed all my instructions for how to place things around the venue correctly and they even put their own personal touches on decor. I was really in awe when I walked out of the bridal suite and saw how they arranged everything. It was SLIGHTLY different than what I told them but I’m SO glad they didn’t listen to me and used their own best judgement because it turned out way better than what was conjured up in my head. I think they have great eye for design and arrangements. Shelley and Sadaf also had the task of wrapping the ivy flowers around the arbor of where we were going to get married. Wow, it was stunning. It looked like a professional florist did it. It turned out AMAZING in the wedding video, too. At the end of the night, they gathered all my belongings and gifts and placed them in my parent’s car for me. Not one thing was missing and I’m so grateful! Communication with Shelley was flawless. I never had to wait on her for an email. She always responded fast and she’s so super nice and attentive. Highly recommend her!!
Make-Up: Melissa Goss
Phenomenal. She has some flawless skills when it comes to make-up and the ultimate test, I feel, for a make-up artist is doing Asian make-up and she killed it!! She’s so fun and really laid back. I love her personality and she’s actually a friend in real life (not just a vendor that I’ll never see again). I look at the photos and I’m like “damn, I love my makeup…I love the eyelashes & the eyeshadow…everything.”
Hair: Joy Greene
If you want a killer team, get Melissa & Joy to do your hair & make-up. Seriously. They both have done hair & makeup for the White House Correspondents Dinner three years in a row – doesn’t that say something? Joy is my regular hair stylist so there was no doubt about it that I was going to hire her to do my wedding. She ROCKED my hair style. I mean, I grew out my hair for 8 months but she was still able to make it seem as if I had super long hair that was curled up into a design. I slept in my braid the night of the wedding and wore it all day the next day. I just couldn’t bear to let it down! Haha – to this day, I stare at the photographs and die over my hair.
Cake: Kogibow Bakery
We chose this bakery because they specialize in Asian-style wedding cakes. They aren’t too sweet and they’re spongy. I had no problems dealing with the owner and they were very prompt to deliver the cake. Exceptional price, too!
DJ: Ian Lade, Digital Sound Services
For some reason, I feel like Ian is apart of our family now. He’s done my cousin’s wedding, he’s done mine, and now he’s doing my other cousin’s wedding in August. What can I say? We love a good DJ!! I love Ian, he’s so professional and super prompt and plays the BEST music to get everyone on the dance floor. It was like a dance party. It was amazing. Everyone kept commenting at how much FUN they were having and even the ones that weren’t much of dancers were even out on the dance floor. I loved that Ian called a week before the wedding to hashout the timeline with me and to give me some advice on music selections, etc. He’s really genuine and does a great job. He’s got a British accent too, so that was entertaining!
Officiant: Rev. Jeffrey Maszal
Rev. Maszal was good but he was a little cocky and wanted to run the show and kind of took that thunder away from my DOC at the rehearsal. I felt that he didn’t really want to work with her and he basically stole the show. I don’t remember much of the ceremony, but I know he has great communication because he’d always reply promptly with emails and he showed up right on time. I was a little miffed at what he said to my DOC and her assistant at our rehearsal. He walked up to my DOC’s assistant and said, “I know the difference between Arabs and Persians.” Ok, not necessary. And then, he mentioned to my DOC that he had a wedding to do right before mine and that it wouldn’t be terrible if he were a little late to my wedding because it’s “an Asian wedding, and they never start on time.” Obviously, I didn’t hear this myself so I can’t say that he did in fact say this, but if he did, then that’s just all sorts of wrong.
Wedding stationery: Melissa Coleman, Wooden Spoons Kitchen
A fellow food blog friend, I hired Melissa to do our entire invitation set. Her design skills are flawless and the calligraphy she used for our names was designed by her. I was so happy to work with her. She is really patient and we did a couple Google hangout sessions so she could walk me through the ordering process. So thrilled with how all of it turned out. I felt bad with all the minor color changes I kept having with the dark purple but she was always more than happy to make changes for me. I highly recommend her for all sorts of design projects!! That girl has a great designers’ eye :)
Posted on May 30, 2013